Tullian Tchividjian expelled for crypto-Lutheranism?

Tullian Tchividjian, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian and the grandson of Billy Graham, was kicked out of the Gospel Coalition blogging community for what the GC folks are calling a doctrinal issue over sanctification.  Others claim other reasons, including Rev. Tchividijian’s criticism of how other GC members handled a sexual abuse scandal.  But I take the official statement from the Reformed organization seriously.

As we have posted, Rev. Tchividijian discovered the distinction between Law and Gospel in some Lutheran writers who helped him through a personal crisis in his ministry.  The complaints about “anti-nominanism,” being weak on sanctification,  and downplaying the role of moral improvement in salvation sound like common Calvinist misunderstandings of Lutheranism. [Read more...]

Law and Gospel in a short fairy tale

Will McDavid at Mockingbird quotes “The Ungrateful Son,”  an extremely short fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm.  Here it is:

Once a man and his wife were sitting outside the front door with a roast chicken before them which they were going to eat between them. Then the man saw his old father coming along and quickly took the chicken and hid it, for he begrudged him any of it. The old man came, had a drink, and went away.

Now the son was about to put the roast chicken back on the table, but when he reached for it, it had turned into a big toad that jumped in his face and stayed there and didn’t go away again.

And if anybody tried to take it away, it would give them a poisonous look, as if about to jump in their faces, so that no one dared touch it. And the ungrateful son had to feed the toad every day, otherwise it would eat part of his face. And thus he went ceaselessly hither and yon about the world.

What  can we learn from this rather bizarre folktale?  After the jump, see what McDavid makes of it. [Read more...]

A song about vocation–or is it?

Thanks to Dan Kempin for alerting me to this song “Do Everything” by Contemporary Christian Music artist Stephen Curtis Chapman.  It is about vocation, but it is about the Reformed doctrine of vocation, rather than the Lutheran doctrine of vocation.  They overlap, but the Reformed emphasis is that the purpose of vocation is to glorify God, as in this song (lyrics and video after the jump).  The Lutheran emphasis is that the purpose of vocation is to love and serve our neighbors.  What difference does that make, if any?

[Read more...]

What the LCMS believes about the Bible

We blogged about the Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the LCMS.  President Harrison has now posted an excerpt from the Statement of Biblical and Confessional Principles, passed by convention in 1973, in response to the church schism over the inerrancy of Scripture.  But that’s not all the statement affirms, setting off the Lutheran view also from that of some other theologies, including those that also affirm inerrancy. [Read more...]

“Spiritual Communion”?

According to Roman Catholicism, you can receive “spiritual communion” even when you don’t take actual, physical communion.  That is, if you desire to receive the sacrament, that is almost as good as actually receiving it.  I learned this seeming bit of Gnosticism from a post by Nicholas Frankovich as part of the discussion about whether or not divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive the Sacrament.

Note too, in the excerpt after the jump, that whereas Lutherans believe that the Body and Blood of Christ are given and received specifically for the forgiveness of sins, Roman Catholics believe that sinners must not receive them.  More evidence that Lutherans actually have a higher view of the Sacraments than Catholics do! [Read more...]

Open questions

Rev. Matthew Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, posted a passage from the Brief Statement of the Doctrinal Position of the Missouri Synod (1932) regarding “Open Questions.”  It makes the wise point that Scripture does not clearly answer all theological questions, and so the Church may not offer definitive answers to them.  See the passage after the jump.

First, can anyone explain the confessional status of the Brief Statement?  Is acceptance of this document obligatory for Missouri Synod Lutherans?  Just pastors?  Laymen?  (The only requirements for formal subscription I’ve come across are to the Scriptures and to the confessions in the Book of Concord.)  This statement affirms things like the inerrancy of Scripture and the Six Days of Creation, but it leaves out important Lutheran doctrines such as the Theology of the Cross and Vocation.

Second, what ARE some of these open questions?  I suspect there are different positions on whether the Scriptures are clear or not on some issues. [Read more...]


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